Monday, September 28, 2009

Republics of Fear: India and China

I wrote on the Guardian's Comment is Free section about the rising paranoia between India and China warning of adversarial nationalism becoming part of the two neighbours' dialog.

Here is the Sunday Times' Michael Sheridan making the same point in a piece about the 60th anniversary of the founding of People's Republic.

Curiously, the enemy most often spoken of is India. The censors permit alarmingly frank discussion on the internet of the merits of a war against India to secure the Tibetan plateau.

“Help the Maoists take over power in India to pay them back for hosting the Dalai Lama,” said one contributor.

Veterans who know the PLA from the inside say that despite all its shiny new kit, such grandiose ideas mask the reality of a force that has no recent battle experience and is riddled with corruption. They describe a system of bribes ranging from 10,000 yuan (£909) to get a good post for a private soldier to 30,000 yuan for a place at military college.

“Compared with our last war against India in 1962, our equipment is much better but the devotion to country and people of our officers and men is much worse,” said a retired officer, who cannot be named.

Or, as General Zhang Shutian, a political commissar, put it in a recent speech: “If corruption in the army continues, ideology will decay and open the way for religion, while the promotion system risks causing a mutiny.”

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